Sydney Nursing School joins Grace Under Pressure to highlight workplace and training cultures that are making young health professionals sick

Grace Under Pressure

Nursing, medicine and allied health are often referred to as "caring" professions, yet bullying, harassment and "teaching by humiliation" are a common experience in hospitals, particularly for junior health professionals, students and interns.

A 2016 study of suicides over a 12-year period found female nurses and midwives had a suicide rate almost triple that of women in non-health professions. Mental health organisation beyondblue also surveyed more than 12,000 doctors in 2013 and found those in training were almost twice as likely to cite very high levels of psychological distress compared to their senior colleagues.

The Seymour Centre and the Big Anxiety Festival, together with the Sydney Arts and Health Collective are presenting Grace Under Pressure, a verbatim theatre project that examines the workplace and training cultures of health professionals, and considers, what is it that is making them sick.

Based on interviews from nurses, medical doctors, allied health professionals from various stages of their careers, including representatives from specialist colleges and peak bodies, the Grace Under Pressure production seeks to open a forum for conversation about these often-taboo issues.

Sydney Nursing School’s Dr Jo River, a member of the Sydney Arts and Health Collective, says that, “recent reports of high rates of suicide among nurses is deeply disturbing. Nurses are at the core of healthcare systems, providing much needed support and care to patients throughout the continuum of life.”

“Junior staff have few resources to disrupt a culture of mistreatment,” says Dr River. “We need to understand what is happening for nurses, and doctors, and work together to create healthier workplace cultures that better support health professionals in their caring work.”

Dr River is a nurse, health sociologist and researcher in the areas of mental health and wellbeing. Her research work draws on social theory to unpack the social determinants of mental health, and to consider more humanistic approaches to care.

“A key component of culture change is consciousness-raising and stakeholder conversation,” Dr River says.

“At the same time, a key protective factor for good mental health is the ability to express, explore and understand experiences of mistreatment, and strengthen our core values and our ethical professional identity. Creative arts educational strategies have been demonstrated to contribute to these outcomes.”

Grace Under Pressure is one performance within the 2017 Big Anxiety Festival, which fosters interdisciplinary collaboration and artistic innovation to address challenges in mental health. Grace Under Pressure will be play at the Seymour Centre from 25-28 October 2017.

The Sydney Arts and Health Collective invite you to join them for the opening night of Grace Under Pressure.

When: Wednesday 25 October 2017
7.00pm Welcome drink
8.00pm Performance

Where: York Theatre, Seymour Centre

Tickets:Tickets are available for purchase via the Seymour Centre website.